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Reel to reel manufacturers still selling new machines ? Sound Enhancers & Exciters (HW)
Old 12th September 2011
  #1
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isham's Avatar
Reel to reel manufacturers still selling new machines ?

Hi slutz,

I felt in love with tape sound during a session, yes it has many limitations and forces u to get it right quickly (no "edition like crazy" syndrome )
Ok back to subject, studer is certainly the best "affordable" brand around but only vintage as far as I know, any brands selling new machines on this planet ? -
Thanks!
Old 12th September 2011
  #2
Here for the gear
 

Otari still has the 2 track MX5050 BIII listed as a product on their site. Not sure if you could actually buy one or not.

Otari, Inc.: Product Information: MX-5050BIII 2ch Analog Audio Tape Recorder
Old 12th September 2011
  #3
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Yes! Sort of.

I believe Vintage King has some sort of deal with a company called Mara Machines, who are basically refurbishing MCI machines up to spec. This is about as "new" a machine as you will find, complete with warrantee and all. Made to order, from what I can tell.

Prices seem pretty reasonable too. Here's a link:

Multi-Tracks | Used | VintageKing.com
Old 12th September 2011
  #4
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isham's Avatar
Thank to you audiogeek and onenz's
Wow the mci looksS sleek, need to dig and read more about them
Wondering why no manfacturer haven't thought there is a market to sell new reel to reel (except otari mentioned), I mean there are many boutique preamp/comp/ converter around the same price for 2 channels of reel to reel...
Many thanks
Old 12th September 2011
  #5
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Fletcher's Avatar
How about because they have a few hundred moving parts that need to be machined, inventoried, assembled... etc.

A Studer you can buy for like $8-12,000 now ran for over $60,000 in 1987... when gas in the United States sold for under $1/gal [about $.25 USD / liter]... and that was when they were selling a few hundred machines a year [economy of scale].

To build a machine these days would require a few hundred thousand dollars of investment... which would mean analog machines of any real quality would be going for over $100k for a 24 track machine... and over $40k for sometime like a 2 or 4 track.

So... you tell me... who in their right mind would buy a 24 track machine for $100k new when they could get one for $8-12k used... add a little "love", call it $20k. Now tell me who in their right mind would build a factory to build these machines that no one in their right mind would purchase [Otari probably still has the tooling... but something tells me that if they are indeed selling machines its from "old stock" parts].
Old 12th September 2011
  #6
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Greg Curtis's Avatar
 

Why not just buy this fine pair of Studers?

Studer A820 pair
Old 12th September 2011
  #7
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isham's Avatar
Thanks Fletcher for the clever explanation (that was just a naive question didn't want to make you angry -
So some companies as otari would be able to make it? But is there a market that is the question ( anamod ats-1 stuff may be the ticket for most people ...)
Thanks for the studer offer but it's above my budget already....
Old 13th September 2011
  #8
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YULOGY's Avatar
 

The struders look great!! If I hadn't just bought a console and there was a realistic way to ship to Oz I'd jump on that.
Hope vintage king is still doing the refurbed units when I'm ready to buy.
Looks like a 24 track MCI for me.
That Otari if gettable is very tempting though...
Old 13th September 2011
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isham View Post
Hi slutz,

I felt in love with tape sound during a session, yes it has many limitations and forces u to get it right quickly (no "edition like crazy" syndrome )
Ok back to subject, studer is certainly the best "affordable" brand around but only vintage as far as I know, any brands selling new machines on this planet ? -
Thanks!
i only know of one that is brand new
maybe there are others
about $15k usd
company is near baltimore maryland
advertised in an esoteric upscale audio magazine

other than that its used reel to reel
or brand new cassettes that are a shell of the old good ones
Old 13th September 2011
  #10
Old 13th September 2011
  #11
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dualflip's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by isham View Post
Hi slutz,

I felt in love with tape sound during a session, yes it has many limitations and forces u to get it right quickly (no "edition like crazy" syndrome )
Ok back to subject, studer is certainly the best "affordable" brand around but only vintage as far as I know, any brands selling new machines on this planet ? -
Thanks!
I wouldnt describe Studer as affordable, from all the tape machines i believe those are the most expensive.
Old 13th September 2011
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
Got tape?

You beat me to it...HA!


24 tracks show up for $2 to $10k all the time... 2 tracks from $500 on up. A fellow studio owner in my area bought a Studer 800 for $2k last year in LA, well maintained, 40% head life, he's pretty happy... Good half tracks [1/2"] aren't much cheaper...

VK is selling machines refurbed by Chris Mara, frequent poster here, and owner of the cool studio- 'Welcome to 1979'. Chris does a comprehensive refurb., and stands by his work. Buy from someone who can either provide service history, head life, etc.., or buy from a high quality tech [like Jim]. You will need a good relationship with a good tech as well! Make them part of your family, buy them presents at Holidays, loan them money, etc.
Old 13th September 2011
  #13
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The Otari 5050III 2-track quarter inch machine brand new is $7,800 here in the US (no discount, no custom options other than parts kits). Five just were built in Japan and arrived here in the US and when those five are gone (which apparently, they go fast), the price is going UP !! Otari was also building quarter inch 4-track machines on a custom basis at $12,000 each up till a year or so ago. But they've stopped doing that.

All that's really happened in the historical context is that prices are returning to "normal". There was of course, that short blip of time for 12 or so years form 1979-92 where masses of bedroom studio-users were buying millions of tape machines (pre-daw days there for a moment) and the selection was wide and a way lower-priced. The masses buying those machines supported the pricing for that short time. But that's over now. And that's not even considering what happened to supposed pro tape machines. Something about the disappearance of record companies, budgets, recording artists, advances, actually being able to sell music at some sort of profit. Stuff like that.

In my own opinion, Tascam and Otari can and will ramp up at any point in the future if they feel like popping some machines into the market and getting $15,000 up for the machines each ..which by the way, is the range and higher I paid for ALL my Tascam machines new. I don't really see harmon doing that with Studer. But who knows. (I see people like Fletcher holding his nose at the mention of Tascam and $15,000.. that's okay ... these machines, especially with some of the mods, are outstanding sounding and built like tanks. I wouldn't let them go).

Anyway, low price days are gone gone gone. Never to return. Those who have the tooling can, might, might not, re-tool to bring out some "vintage", high-priced stuff. But for now, take a look at that Otari price I mentioned. That's where we are folks.

Tape is around. I still buy it for all my tape machines. Dunno why there's still a joke about no tape on the planet.
Old 13th September 2011
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
[...] You will need a good relationship with a good tech as well! Make them part of your family, buy them presents at Holidays, loan them money, etc.
If you've got a marriage age sister or daughter, arranging for a tech in-law could be a smart move.
Old 13th September 2011
  #15
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ddageek's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
If you've got a marriage age sister or daughter, arranging for a tech in-law could be a smart move.
I did that with my receptionist!

But they moved to Nebraska!
Old 13th September 2011
  #16
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isham's Avatar
heh funny post at the end ;-) I was not anticipating this

Studer is certainly not the cheaper but I suppose the "best value for money" in term or reliability / serviceability and it's from the country I live in... have some models in my mind (PR99 for example) which seems affordable for a non commercial studio guy as I am...

I will play lottery this week in case of...
Old 13th September 2011
  #17
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isham's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
If you've got a marriage age sister or daughter, arranging for a tech in-law could be a smart move.
By googling a bit , this guy is living at 45 min from me, my sisters are all married -;(
http://www.algatronic-audiotech.ch/aa-werkstatt.htm
Old 15th September 2011
  #18
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Here you can get a top notch refurbished and even enhanced Studer:

www.mastertapesoundlab.com
Old 16th September 2011
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audiogeek View Post
Yes! Sort of.

I believe Vintage King has some sort of deal with a company called Mara Machines, who are basically refurbishing MCI machines up to spec. This is about as "new" a machine as you will find, complete with warrantee and all. Made to order, from what I can tell.

Prices seem pretty reasonable too. Here's a link:

Multi-Tracks | Used | VintageKing.com
Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
You beat me to it...HA!


24 tracks show up for $2 to $10k all the time... 2 tracks from $500 on up. A fellow studio owner in my area bought a Studer 800 for $2k last year in LA, well maintained, 40% head life, he's pretty happy... Good half tracks [1/2"] aren't much cheaper...

VK is selling machines refurbed by Chris Mara, frequent poster here, and owner of the cool studio- 'Welcome to 1979'. Chris does a comprehensive refurb., and stands by his work. Buy from someone who can either provide service history, head life, etc.., or buy from a high quality tech [like Jim]. You will need a good relationship with a good tech as well! Make them part of your family, buy them presents at Holidays, loan them money, etc.

thanks guys! Vintage King have been doing a great job with "Mara Machines" - and the majority of people that have been buying my machines the last few years have never owned a tape machine before; which i find to be quite refreshing!

OP (or anyone else) - let me know if you have any other questions.

Chris Mara

Old 22nd November 2011
  #20
Gear Addict
 
Arny's Avatar
 

I have been refurbishing Ampex's ever since they appointed me to represent their Service & Spares since 1996.
Since then we have sold all over Europe about 50 differant Ampex Machines.

We only prepare a machine when requested but it goes out with the same 3 month warranty as the original Ampex's did.

We keep the largest stock of Ampex Spares not only in Europe but although questionable it could be, in the World.

We even have an ATR-124 in stock. its out on hire until Easter though.

For the person looking for a reliable cost effective deal, then seek a good Ampex AG-440B but a "440C" is even better, we can
upgrade any 440 series machines for 1/2" use at 15ips or even 30ips, as well as ATR's & 350's .

Trouble is all Ampex's machines are very heavy, so sending to the USA can be expensive but I highly recomend Mike Spitz at
the ATR-Service company who I understand will make you a brand new Ampex ATR-100 Series.

Best Regards

Tony
Tony Arnold (Director)
Ampex-UK
www.ampex-uk.com
[email protected]
Old 24th January 2012
  #21
Gear Addict
 
ResonantMind's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher View Post
How about because they have a few hundred moving parts that need to be machined, inventoried, assembled... etc.

A Studer you can buy for like $8-12,000 now ran for over $60,000 in 1987... when gas in the United States sold for under $1/gal [about $.25 USD / liter]... and that was when they were selling a few hundred machines a year [economy of scale].

To build a machine these days would require a few hundred thousand dollars of investment... which would mean analog machines of any real quality would be going for over $100k for a 24 track machine... and over $40k for sometime like a 2 or 4 track.

So... you tell me... who in their right mind would buy a 24 track machine for $100k new when they could get one for $8-12k used... add a little "love", call it $20k. Now tell me who in their right mind would build a factory to build these machines that no one in their right mind would purchase [Otari probably still has the tooling... but something tells me that if they are indeed selling machines its from "old stock" parts].
You don't think CNC machines that didn't exist prior 1990 could potentially bring down the cost as well as having all non-mechanical parts (casing/cosmetics, etc) made in China as well as having some components be SMD...? Just curious, not saying they would be.

Even partial assembly could be done DIY at the studio by local techs or those brave enough to try themselves.
Old 25th January 2012
  #22
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Not so many years ago, the Otari 5050 was the most seen and used machine in radio and television stations. Every station that I worked for had at least one. This was when they were about $2500 to $3000 USD new. They're rugged, easy to operate and sound very nice. If I was considering another reel to reel, and had the money, I would go for a slightly used Studer in the 1/4" variety. They sound just so transparent if set-up correctly.

Dennis
Old 19th March 2015
  #23
Here for the gear
 

this is for the op. i have had something like 40 years of experience with reel to reels, both in the domestic and studio settings, and had very close contact with some of the companies that produced them.

There is one remaining definite seller out there, new decks custom built, to boot, based on technics/pioneer designs. not sure if they're old stock, or whether this crowd actually build them new, but the latter seems to be indicated on their website if you care to have a look around...
J-Corder

there are a couple of technicians out there in the world still capable of making rollers to demand though, most notably, you could google terry's rubber rollers. be warned, they aren't cheap, but they're definitely worth the investment if you have an older deck. >20 years since the rubber was last replaced on rollers is probably a good time to think about getting the work redone, before the rubber perishes and damages tape or capstan.
head machining can be still done by a few people also.

tape is widely available. the basf formulae and production machines were sold to a dutch company, and their tape is far superior to modern ampex tape, which was taken over by quantigy, and comes as often as not sticky, straight out of the box.
ampex, basf, and scotch tape from the 70s and earlier is widely available on ebay, and is quite good enough for most studio and all domestic applications, but i suggest you find a good tech that can set your deck for your preferred tape, once you decide on it. i suggest the widely available, old but reliable, basf lp33 or lp36-series tapes if needing to work on a budget, or seek out the lmrg tapes from europe if looking for new.
Old 19th March 2015
  #24
All of this is moot when you ask this question: How much longer will new audio tape be available? The answer is...The fat lady is getting ready to sing. Five years, maybe 10 years tops? After that, people will gobble up all remaining NOS tape in no time at ridiculous prices, then start reusing the same tape over and over till it's riddled with drop outs. Then, it's lights out for tape.
Old 25th March 2015
  #25
Here for the gear
 

how much longer will new audio tape be available? some time yet, as tape from digital tape archives can be reused when retired from an archive. it's still used quite widely in large businesses, as it's cheaper to run a tape archival scheme than to have the constantly running and less reliable disc archival system. in a lot of cases, it's also FASTER to run tape in such systems. tape still will be available for some time to come yet. in the 1/4" variety, at least.

as tapes are retired, after only 2 or 3 errors on a digital tape drive, from a tape archive, they're often still easily good enough for (as i said earlier) most studio and all domestic decks (by the mid 80s, there was no such thing as a domestic deck that wasn't studio quality, so this qualification is a bit hazy), so checking ebay regularly, and catching people before they throw out literally miles of tape, will make the tape supplies last longer, even if the situation WERE as bad as you make out, which it isn't.

since i've given the op everything he asked for (NEW deck supplier, name of a tape supplier, and a way to find contact with a good technician for the only problematic part of tape deck maintenance, getting hands on new rubber rollers), i think it's fair to say that if you look around and are patient and perseverant enough, the tape will come.

bear in mind, the sound from computers is NOT better than tape a master tape, just deeper. tape averages around 40-60 dB depth, computers can, i believe, achieve depths of 120dB and greater. the sound from computers is more easily reproduceable, and therein lies their 'killer application' with regards to the music industry, but the sound of tape, and even of a 1st (and sometimes second) generation reproduction is not only technically better than anything capable by any computer in the world, it is also (to that 60 dB depth) more accurate!
Old 25th March 2015
  #26
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Lance Lawson's Avatar
 

I'll be surprised if tape goes another 5 years under the current market forces. It will require a large demand for new machines by the consumer and professional market. By nearly every indication the professional recording industry is content to move deeper into pure digital as tape becomes increasingly unattractive to operate. Even those studios that like analogue are prepared to to do without it. Some analogue tape will go on in the recesses of the industry but as the medium dies those heroic last operators will not have enough mass appeal or market presence to change the inevitable. I suspect it will be the tape supply that will give out first. machines can be cobbled together with mix and match pieces parts machines but quality tape is the lynch pin that will send the curtain down for the count.

The big question is who will be the last tape supplier standing? I suspect it will be ATR. I say ATR because RMGI has had it's share of reorganizations and is just recovering from yet another. But ATR stands a reasonable chance to be the one and only. I say this because of where ATR operates. namely the State of Pennsylvania. For some reason PA is home to a number of tenacious niche industry companies. There is an insular determination there and I've seen it in odd little companies that solder on year after year when in other places the plug would be pulled. Perhaps this is because of PA's link to an industrial past or perhaps it's because jobs are notoriously difficult to find there. Folks tend not to job hop. Many of those small niche companies have the same cast of characters for decades that could be doing better elsewhere. The classic example of PA insular pride come from the CF Martin Guitar Company. It is the oldest in continuous operation company in the country. It does not surprise me at all knowing the region as I do.

So that's why I think ATR will be the last tape supplier and they will do it to the bitter end and we should be glad they will.
Old 26th March 2015
  #27
Gear Nut
ATR... Except that Mike Spitz won't be making it and I wonder how long Mike's wife is going to maintain an interest in her late husband's analog tape obsessions. Maybe she will successfully sell the business to someone who has a similar passion for analog audio.

Does anyone know the current status or future of ATR? I think it is amazing the company has kept going without Mike's daily involvement.
Old 29th March 2015
  #28
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i've been hearing people say tape is not going to be available for more than 5 years for at least the last 30. don't count either atr or rmgi out yet. and while you're at it, add verbatim to the list, they've got everything they need to make tape, and do so, since they have most of the contracts for tape archives in the world. THEY will be around for AT LEAST the next 20 years, because tape is still better than disc for data archiving. now we just have to convince them to put some of their tape also onto nab standard reels, as well as into their tape archive cartridges.
Old 29th March 2015
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robcat View Post

tape is still better than disc for data archiving.
uggh.... my hundred or so Travan tapes were totally unreliable. Hence I had to make triplicate backup runs with them on multiple tape drives. I never want to see another tape backup system again.

Leapfrogged, redundant hard drives............. ahhh... that's worked well for me for almost thirty years.

As to tape makers, even if rmgi gets out, they have the equipment.... which they'll sell to someone else for continuing with the tape making/cutting process........ no doubt one of these decades, it'll all end up in Chris Mara's place
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